Tag Archive for: #slinerailcorridor

S-Line Rail Corridor

The Local Skinny! S Line Rail Corridor Receives Over $1 Billion

Apparently, $1 billion doesn’t go as far as it used to. At least as far as the S-Line passenger rail line goes, that number – a 1 followed by NINE zeroes – will get the train from Raleigh to as far north as Wake Forest. That’s still 28 miles or so from Henderson.

President Joe Biden and U.S. Department of Transportation announced last week that North Carolina would get a whopping $1.09 billion in federal grant money to build the first segment of the S-Line, a high-performance passenger rail line that will ultimately connect North Carolina with Virginia and points in the Northeast.

WIZS News spoke with NC DOT Rail Division Director Jason Orthner late last week  to find out what the project means for the state, and for Henderson and Vance County – basically the halfway point between Raleigh and Richmond.

Orthner said Henderson is “a critical location on the line…(which, when completed)  will be on one of the most advanced transportation networks in the country.”

The whole project covers 162 miles, Orthner said. While there is existing rail along many stretches, it’s a project that will need to be built in phases. If DOT engineer could wave a magic wand to create all the bridges and other structural components needed to bring the passenger rail service through the state, it surely would shorten the process.

Alas, state DOT officials are just trying to get the train out of Raleigh and north to Wake Forest in this first phase of the massive project.

“We will pursue grant funding and extend service as we do it,” Orthner said, adding that DOT is already planning for the next phases to reach Henderson and beyond.

As for Henderson’s part, Orthner said, being ready for what’s coming, he’s pleased. “We are really excited about Henderson,” he said.

City leaders have been learning about mobility hubs and transportation hubs as they prepare and plan for what passenger rail service can add to the city’s growth and tourism opportunities.

The trick is to use existing tracks up and down the East Coast for passenger rail service without impeding the freight service that uses the same railways.

Train travel is growing in popularity – there’s record ridership between Raleigh and Charlotte, Orthner noted – and he said there is a true interest by the public in rail transportation.

“It’s safe, productive, comfortable and it’s just really a great way to travel.”



S-Line Rail Corridor

Tillis Announces $1 Billion Grant for Raleigh to Richmond Commuter Rail

press release courtesy of the office of U.S. Senator Thom Tillis

Dec. 5, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senator Thom Tillis announced a $1 billion grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) for a new passenger rail route between Raleigh, NC and Richmond, VA. The route will be along the CSX Transportation “S-Line” as a part of the Southeast Corridor that will better connect North Carolina with Virginia, Washington D.C., and the Northeast Corridor.

“This $1 billion grant for North Carolina to make progress on the Raleigh to Richmond Rail Line is a big win for economic development in the region,” said Senator Tillis. “I’m proud this investment was made possible by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that I helped negotiate, write, and pass into law.”

The project improves system and service performance by developing a resilient and reliable passenger rail route that will also contribute to freight and supply chain resiliency in the Southeast. NCDOT and Amtrak will provide a 20% non-Federal match. Following selection, FRA will work with the recipient to establish and obligate the Phased Funding Agreement. FRA anticipates an initial obligation of FY22-23 funds under the agreement of up to $479,416,000, with contingent commitments from Advance Appropriations in FY24-26 providing the balance of funds.

For a list of specific BIL infrastructure grants, click HERE.



S-Line Rail Corridor

The Local Skinny! Latest On S Line Rail Service

Plans for the proposed S-Line are chugging along, and Vance County commissioners got an encouraging update from NC DOT officials at their meeting earlier this week.

If all goes the way it’s supposed to, Henderson and Norlina will be stops along a yet-to-be completed passenger rail line that will connect the Washington, D.C. and the Northeast Corridor rail system all the way to Florida.

Julie White, deputy secretary for multi-modal transportation with DOT, joined Rail Division Director Jason Orthner and Ryan Brumfield, DOT’s integrated mobility division director at Monday’s meeting.

“We continue to see support of the corridor and interest from the U.S. DOT to invest,” Orthner stated.

This stretch of rail line that includes seven stops from Sanford to Norlina in North Carolina, is expected to serve up to 25 million passengers when it’s completed, sometime close to 2030. It will connect Raleigh and Richmond, VA.

Grant funding provided $950,000 for conduct studies for each of the proposed stops in Henderson and Norlina. There were multiple listening sessions in each area to gather community input and explain the project over the course of the past year or so.

The two local stops proposed in this stretch of the S-Line project are among seven, with others being Sanford, Apex, Wake Forest, Youngsville and Franklinton.

Ridership in North Carolina has increased steadily over the past five years, with the exception of 2020 when COVID-19 was in full force. In 2022, more than a half million people hopped on a train to get from Point A to Point B, according to information the trio shared with commissioners.

People are leaning into rail for transportation needs, Orthner noted. A fifth train is being added to serve the Raleigh to Charlotte market and this year roundtrip service between the two major urban areas is scheduled to begin.

The impact on the local economy could be big, and local leaders have been involved in discussions about potential station, or hub, sites in recent months as plans continue to progress.

This project has been in process since the early 1990’s and the corridor rail was acquired from CSX in 2020. Since then, there have been lots of studies and grant awards to keep the whole thing “on track,” no pun intended.

Brumfield said the community interest in creating the rail service has added to the success of the project. The creation of “mobility hubs” involves much more that a building where people wait to board a train, he said. It’s an activity center of transportation and a meeting space where energy ripples out into the wider community, positively affecting quality of life and accessibility and making communities more vibrant.

Commissioners asked questions, from length of time to get from Raleigh to Richmond (2 -2.5 hours) to what type of train traffic Henderson could expect to see along its portion of the rail line (continued freight service and faster passenger service).

Right now, CSX runs trains about 25 mph in the area, but high-speed service means that passenger trains could reach between 80 and 110 mph on northbound and southbound runs.

This project is one of 10 that the NC DOT Rail Division has across the state.

In their presentation to commissioners, the DOT team noted that this construction project will result in one of the most technologically advanced railroads in the Southeast, providing:

-110 mph passenger railroad

-91 new grade separations

-concrete ties

-high speed switches

-high level platforms

-freight bypass tracks

-positive train control and

-advanced signal systems


Once the Raleigh to Richmond link is completed, it will connect North Carolina and points farther South to Washington, DC and points up the Northeast Corridor, where rail service is a critical transportation component for commuters and other travelers.

Benefits to our region include:

  • Direct connection between urban centers by as many as 25 million passengers by 2040
  • Additional capacity and over and hour in travel time saved between NC and VA
  • Backbone of regional multi-modal connectivity including commuter rail, transit and active transportation
  • Critical to further expanding the NC passenger rail system
  • Provides freight network resiliency
  • Environmental benefits
  • Expands service to disadvantaged and underserved regions


  • Prepare and submit grant applications. There’s a grant funding match provided by the State Transportation Improvement Plan would combine local funding with state and federal grants. Application due April 21.
  • Develop and implement the first phase of the S-Line will be Raleigh to Wake Forest
  • There’s $4.5 billion available from 2022 FRA (a federal-state partnership)
  • Grant funding for ROW, final design and constructions.



S-Line Rail Corridor

Upcoming S-Line Rail Project Updates Set For Henderson, Norlina

Area residents have a couple of opportunities this week to hear updates about the planned S-Line rail project that includes stops in Henderson and Norlina as part of a 95-mile stretch of rail that that ultimately will connect Richmond and Tampa.

If you’re planning to attend the Henderson Christmas parade Saturday afternoon, then Sadie’s Coffee Corner is the place where a community “pop-up” event will be held.

Stop by anytime between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. at the 324 S. Garnett St. location to learn the latest about the S-Line and transit-oriented development.

A second opportunity takes place Friday, Dec. 2 outside Rachel’s Whistle Stop in Norlina. There will be an information table set up for interested individuals to stop by any time between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., according to information from Warren County Director of Community and Economic Development Charla Duncan.

Rachel’s Whistle Stop is located at 123 Hyco St. in Norlina.

Consultants working with the NC DOT Rail Division will provide updates at each event.

The State of North Carolina’s S-Line project includes six other communities in the region that fall along a 95-mile-long section of the S-Line rail corridor including Apex, Franklinton, Henderson, Raleigh, Sanford, Wake Forest, and Youngsville.

Transit-oriented development has a goal to connect communities and public spaces by increasing accessibility without having to rely on a personal vehicle.

Learn more at https://www.ncdot.gov/divisions/rail/s-line-study.

S-Line Rail Corridor

Another Grant Means Another Step Toward ‘All Aboard’ for S-Line Rail

Plans to bring rail service back to Henderson continue to chug along, and one city council member said he’s been pleasantly surprised at how the S-Line project is coming together.

Garry Daeke spoke with John C. Rose on Tuesday’s Town Talk about the recent announcement of a $3.4 million Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grant to complete a transit-oriented development study.

“It’s incredible that we’ve been able to get these grants so quickly,” Daeke said. The wheels of government and bureaucracy often move slowly, especially when working with multiple agencies across the local, state and federal levels, Daeke noted. But everything is running along smoothly, including a recent site visit that Daeke said proved quite positive.

“I’m real enthused about the work of DOT – how much time and energy they’ve put into this – they really want to see this fly,” Daeke said. In fact, state DOT officials held a press conference Tuesday morning in Sanford to announce the awarding of the RAISE grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation. Sanford is one of the stops along the proposed S-Line, which includes stops in Apex, Raleigh, Wake Forest, Henderson and Norlina to connect the Raleigh to Richmond corridor.

The City Council is “100 percent excited” about the project, which would include a train station and other possible retail and commercial projects nearby, with the prospect of providing a huge boost to the area’s economy.

The rail would serve passenger and freight traffic, both of which Henderson has experienced in the past.

For Daeke, it’s all about working together. “Collaboration is how things happen,” he said. During the recent site visit, city staff and local officials joined NC DOT staff and railroad representatives to survey existing infrastructure and to envision how the area could be transformed.

The city put up $190,000 for its part of the project, and although Daeke said it’s a lot of money, he said he believes the project will pay big dividends for the city and beyond.

The group took a look at the old First National Bank Building on Garnett Street as a possible station, and Daeke said the reviews were positive. The group took a walking tour and looked at the former bank building as they covered basically the whole block, discussing everything from loading docks and accessibility to parking lots and bike paths.

“This will be the jewel on the new line between Petersburg and Sanford,” Daeke recalled one visitor as saying.

Between the urban redevelopment plans underway and what’s going on downtown with the Downtown Development Commission, Daeke said the state and rail officials who visited were impressed with prospects for the rail hub.

“They said it would be a fantastic site for a train station,” he said, affirming what city leaders had wondered about. “It became very clear that it could work.”

What comes next?

A feasibility study, including a site assessment and preliminary engineering plans, for starters.

But the project includes much more than just situating a train station in town.

The whole notion of a “transportation hub” involves looking at how people are going to get to the station and could include projects from creating bike lanes to widening existing roads. Then there’s the very real possibility of having to build a couple of overpasses for the trains to keep road traffic moving. Where will folks park if they want to catch the train in Henderson and leave their car for a few days?

Daeke said it will be key to take a look at where people gain access to the train and make sure that the area is safe and easily accessible for the community.

“It’s definitely a bigger plan than just building a train station,” he said.

The S-Line is a developing rail corridor that will better connect rural and urban communities, improve and expand freight and passenger services, and significantly reduce rail travel times between Raleigh and Washington D.C. To learn more, visit this NCDOT webpage.

Click Play

TownTalk: The Future Of Trains In Henderson

It’s a sound many longtime Henderson residents recall fondly – the familiar sound of the train whistle. From the way some local officials are talking, the trains could be running through Henderson once again, bringing with them the chance for some economic development in and around the downtown area.

“I’m excited about the prospect for Henderson and for the railroad,” said Henderson Assistant City Manager Paylor Spruill. “There’s a resurgence and interest in the railroad and what it can do, not just for Henderson, but throughout North Carolina,” Spruill said on Tuesday’s Town Talk.

He and City Councilman Garry Daeke spoke with John C. Rose about some exciting possibilities for a future high-speed rail and freight line, in addition to commuter rail service.

The N.C. Department of Transportation is using some federal grant funding to study the feasibility of having a commuter, or S-Line, rail service. Both Spruill and Daeke said it’s pretty much a done deal that Henderson will be a regional stop on this line.

“We will have a stop in Henderson,” Daeke said.

The next step is to identify a spot for a station that can handle both the high-speed and the commuter service. One possibility is the old bank building located just about in the center of town, Daeke said. It’s been vacant for some time, and the building is squeezed in among other buildings on Garnett Street, but it’s a possibility.

“There are some other sites up and down the line,” he said, but added that it’s exciting to think that Henderson will be a stop on the line. It’s also exciting, from a city perspective, to think “big” in terms of economic development in and around the train station. From business and industry, to restaurants, social and recreational activities, the sky’s the limit.

Additional housing for those who commute to, say, the Raleigh area is another possibility for development.

“We’ve got some time, but we need to go ahead and start looking” for a site where the station could be located, Daeke said.

“There’s a whole lot of infrastructure that will have to go in to support the train station,” Spruill said, from elevator towers and a parking deck to several overpasses and underpasses to

accommodate the flow of rail, street and pedestrian traffic.

The project has some distance to go, but, Spruill said, “they’re still making some giant strides.”



S-Line Rail Corridor

TownTalk: Downtown Development Manager Shares Updates On Projects

Picture this: The S Line rail passengers, bound from Charlotte to Richmond, stop in the late afternoon at the Henderson Depot. As they emerge from the train, they’re making decisions – Where to dine? Want to take in tonight’s show at McGregor Hall? Which downtown hotel or bed and breakfast should I try tonight? The stopover in Henderson has become a welcome break in the trip, a respite filled with food, nightlife and tranquil lodging.

When you dream, dream big.

And when there’s an opportunity to get closer to making that dream a reality, make sure to check it out.

That just may be what Tracy Madigan has experienced in her first months as Henderson’s downtown development manager. The dreams are alive and the opportunities are presenting themselves.S-Line Rail Corridor

Madigan spoke with John C. Rose on Wednesday’s Town Talk about her new role and what’s on the horizon to make downtown a more attractive destination for visitors – and prospective businesses.

As for the train stopping again in Henderson, she said there was to have been a meeting today with state officials to share just why Henderson needs to be a stop on the S Line.

“There are all kinds of ideas in the works,” Madigan said. But they are merely ideas, waiting for decisions to be made. Henderson and Franklinton are being studied for possible train stops. A stop in Henderson could open up lots of possibilities for downtown development, she added.

While the train stop may be more of a long-term project, Madigan mentioned several areas downtown that have already gotten a facelift – namely, lights at the reflection pools and fountains near the city fire station, the construction of an outdoor pavilion/amphitheater by McGregor Hall  and the beautification of Orange Street Park.

With help from Sam Franklin and Franklin Brothers Nursery, the summer plantings are in at the park, and some garden benches are coming soon to that greenspace, nestled beside the Henry A. Dennis Building on Garnett Street.

“You should be seeing the lights in the fountains coming on in the next couple of weeks,” Madigan said. This is the first of several water installations that are planned around the city, she added.

The pavilion, an outdoor venue option for events, is under construction. Tommy Roberson, of Robco Manufacturing and Alumadock Marine Structures, is a pavilion benefactor, she said.

The vision of the downtown development commission is to assist with, help and encourage downtown development and economic vitality, she said. Often, city and county entities collaborate to further the mission.

Although she is a city employee and reports to City Manager Terrell Blackmon, Madigan said, she often collaborates with other agencies and government officials. Vance Economic Development Director Christian Lockamy and Chamber of Commerce President Michele Burgess are two individuals who continue to provide extensive support and help.

One long-range goal is to develop incentives in the form of grants to help businesses – existing and prospective – have an impact in the downtown area. There are smaller incentive grants that are available, but Madigan said she hopes to be able to offer larger grants in the future.

Click Play for Today’s Full TownTalk


S-Line Rail Corridor Goes Straight Through Henderson

The S-Line rail corridor goes straight through downtown Henderson.  The future of the route from Petersburg, Virginia down to the Virginia line and then the NC Department of Transportation’s portion from Virginia to South Carolina could spawn additional economic development for the local Henderson area.

Being a mainline portion of the Southeast Corridor and possibly a higher speed line would help too.

For now, the news is the fact that NCDOT has been awarded a grant for development planning near passenger rail stations.

Henderson Mayor Eddie Ellington is quoted in a press release from NCDOT, and he said, “Our community was founded on rail traffic in 1841. It is only natural that our resurgence is based on this same driving force for economic development, connecting us to greater opportunities. The regional cooperation and resulting benefit this project represents is government at its best.”

Julie White, NCDOT’s deputy secretary for Multimodal Transportation said in the press release: “We’re grateful to be working with cities and towns that understand how passenger rail service can spur economic development.  This as a great opportunity to use passenger rail to better connect rural and urban communities. It should serve as a model for future projects.”

In our area, Henderson and Franklinton contributed the necessary matching funds for the grant.

Franklinton Mayor Art Wright is quoted in the press release saying, “The Town of Franklinton is looking forward to working with our neighbors along the S-line to develop a community that will support passenger rail. This funding will promote Franklinton’s rich rail history and expand downtown.”

The grant money can be used to develop plans for areas around rail stations.

In Henderson, that plan will need to look at plans for the actual rail station itself.  The only actual passenger station along the line is long gone, and the metal and plexiglass hut that sat at the corner of Williams and Montgomery Streets downtown was removed after the final AMTRAK operated “Silver Star” departed for the final time in the mid 1980s.

The bigger picture is all these smaller pieces are adding up. This grant now, and the next press release about another grant later, and when the news of hiring a new Henderson-Vance Downtown Development Commission director comes, and with the recent hiring of a new Henderson-Vance Economic Development Commission director, and downtown Main Street status in Henderson, and an expanded industrial park, and other growth and development, it’s all chipping away at the problem and putting down new roads to success.

If you’d like to hear more about the S-Line, listen back to TownTalk from October 28, 2020 and NCDOT guest Jason Orthner, Rail Division Director.


— NCDOT Press Release

NCDOT Awarded Grant for Development Planning Near Passenger Rail Stations

​Federal funding will help communities plan for development on S-Line corridor

Raleigh — The Federal Transit Authority has awarded the N.C. Department of Transportation’s Integrated Mobility Division a $900,000 grant to help Triangle area communities create plans for development along the S-Line rail corridor.

The S-Line corridor is a passenger rail line that starts at the Virginia border, runs through Raleigh, and ends at the South Carolina state line.

“We’re grateful to be working with cities and towns that understand how passenger rail service can spur economic development,” said Julie White, NCDOT’s deputy secretary for Multimodal Transportation. “This as a great opportunity to use passenger rail to better connect rural and urban communities. It should serve as a model for future projects.”

The following towns contributed matching funds for the grant: Apex, Franklinton, Henderson, Raleigh, Sanford and Wake Forest. The towns will use the grant money to develop plans for the areas around the rail stations. The plans will explore how the rail stations will bolster economic development in their town centers and enable these communities to plan for connections to bus service, micro transit, bicycle paths and greenways.

Mayors of the towns that contributed matching funds to the grant provided the following comments.

Apex Mayor Jacques K. Gilbert said:
“The Town of Apex is thrilled to join the North Carolina Department of Transportation and our regional partners in this forward-thinking effort to plan for the future of passenger rail along the S-Line corridor. Working together, we will realize the substantial economic and mobility benefits of passenger rail for our communities.”

Franklinton Mayor Art Wright said:
“The Town of Franklinton is looking forward to working with our neighbors along the S-line to develop a community that will support passenger rail. This funding will promote Franklinton’s rich rail history and expand downtown.”

Henderson Mayor Eddie Ellington said:
“Our community was founded on rail traffic in 1841. It is only natural that our resurgence is based on this same driving force for economic development, connecting us to greater opportunities. The regional cooperation and resulting benefit this project represents is government at its best.”

Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin said:
“This grant is crucial to moving the S-Line project ahead and restoring passenger rail service between Raleigh and Richmond. In the long-term, the S-Line will improve mobility and reduce congestion, not only in Raleigh, but across the region. I am thrilled to continue working with everyone involved in this project, and deeply appreciate FTA’s support.”

Sanford Mayor Chet Mann said:
“Sanford is thrilled with the prospect of having passenger rail on the S-Line. We have a rich train history as we were founded at the rail crossing in 1874 in what is now our Depot Park. We see multimodal transportation as a key component to any growing community. This project will usher in a new wave of economic development around an area in our town already designated for revitalization. We are grateful to be partnering with the NCDOT and all the other stakeholders involved in this project and we are beyond excited at watching what happens as this project evolves.”

Wake Forest Mayor Vivian A. Jones said:
“We’ve been working on bringing passenger rail to Wake Forest for quite a while. We recognize there’s a strong demand out there, so we are excited about this opportunity and are looking forward to getting it done.”

S-Line Rail Corridor

S-Line Rail Corridor Meeting to Address Future Opportunities for Local Area

100.1 FM ~ 1450 AM ~ WIZS, Your Community Voice ~ Click to LISTEN LOCAL

Please join the S-Line (rail corridor) Stakeholder Committee for a virtual meeting on Thursday, December 10, 2020, from 1 – 2 p.m. to hear from transit-oriented development and land-use planning experts. You will learn how the local area can plan for current and future opportunities along the S-Line.

Meeting agenda:

1 – 1:05 p.m.: Welcome and Opening Remarks, Mayor Mann of Sanford, Mayor Jones of Wake Forest, Co-Chairs of the S-Line Stakeholder Committee

1:05 – 1:20 p.m.: S-Line Update, NCDOT Deputy Secretary Julie White and Rail Director Jason Orthner

1:20 – 1:40 p.m.: Using Rail to Create Place and Economic Value: NC Case Studies, Terry Shook, Shook Kelley

1:40 – 1:50 p.m.: Tailoring Land Use and Economic Development Opportunities for S-Line Communities, Jeff Bandini, Urban Land Institute

1:50 – 2 p.m.: Next Steps and Closing, Julie White, NCDOT

To register for the virtual meeting, please click here.

For more information on plans for the S-Line, click here.

S-Line Rail Corridor

Town Talk 10/28/20: $47.5 Million Grant to Help Reconnect S-Line Rail Corridor


Jason Orthner, Rail Division Director with the N.C. Department of Transportation (NCDOT), appeared on WIZS Town Talk Wednesday at 11 a.m.

Orthner discussed the $47.5 million federal grant awarded to the Rail Division for the purchase of the S-Line railroad corridor, part of the Southeast Corridor, between Raleigh and Ridgeway in Warren County, NC.

According to a recent NC DOT press release, the U.S. Department of Transportation named the Southeast Corridor as one of the first five federally designated higher-speed rail corridors in the country in 1992. The Southeast Corridor is a network of passenger and freight rail that runs from Washington, D.C. to Jacksonville, Fla., encompassing D.C., Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia and Florida.

“The [NC DOT Rail Division] grant is specifically related to the acquisition of the S-Line rail corridor that runs from Petersburg, VA, down through Henderson and Vance County, into Raleigh and continues south through Cary, Apex, Sanford and Hamlet,” said Orthner.

Providing a brief history of the railroad, Orthner said the route through Henderson dates back to the 1830s and is one of the original railroads built in the country.

“In the late 1980s, the service changed because they truncated the line at Norlina, so they removed the tracks between Petersburg and Norlina,” said Orthner. “It’s now underutilized because it’s a stub-ended route, and the freight can only come in and out one way. So the acquisition of the corridor includes looking at how we can enhance freight by reconnecting the line north while also expanding passenger opportunities. We think it’s a great opportunity to do both on this line through this acquisition.”

To continue the project north, Orthner said DOT partners in Virginia are involved in similar acquisitions to connect the remaining line from Ridgeway to Petersburg.

According to the NCDOT, the Southeast is projected to see one of the largest population growths in the country over the coming decades. With a corresponding increase in freight volume expected, Orthner said improving rail infrastructure will reduce highway congestion and expand connectivity for both passengers and goods between states.

To hear the interview in its entirety, go to WIZS.com and click on Town Talk.

The Southeast Corridor is a network of passenger and freight rail that runs from Washington, D.C. to Jacksonville, Fla., encompassing D.C., Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia and Florida. (Graphic courtesy the NCDOT)